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BY-NC-ND 3.0 license Open Access Published by De Gruyter Open Access February 22, 2016

Pointing and Self-reference in French and French Sign Language

  • Aliyah Morgenstern , Stéphanie Caët and Fanny Limousin
From the journal Open Linguistics

Abstract

The aim of this paper is to conduct an exploratory study and compare the development of pointing and its specific use as self-reference in French sign language (LSF) with the development of pointing and self reference in French. Personal reference is expressed through nominal expressions and pronouns in French. In LSF, the signs used for personal reference have the same form as pointing gestures, which are present in children’s communication system from the age of 10-11 months (Bates et. al 1977, Clark 1978). Continuity between pointing gestures and signs is questioned by Bellugi & Klima (1981) and Petitto (1986), who indicate that signing children’s pre-linguistic pointing gestures are different from signs and correspond to two distinct categories: indexical and symbolic. We present arguments for a continuity hypothesis between pointing gestures and signs. We coded two longitudinal datasets of a French-speaking child and a French Sign Language signing child aged seven months to three years, filmed at home with their mothers once a month. Our analyses enabled us to underline the continuity between the deaf child’s pointing gestures and their incorporation as markers of personal reference into the child’s sign language system.

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Received: 2015-2-1
Accepted: 2015-10-9
Published Online: 2016-2-22

© 2016 Aliyah Morgenstern et al.

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 License.

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